There are times when the Lord will have us face something in order to have it become a message that can be used to bring freedom for others, and really that could be said for each biblical character, this message hits close to my heart personally, and now I wanted to share.
A stronghold is…
- Developed from lies we tell ourselves, or have been spoken to us.
- Those things that hinder our ability to see reality.
- Something that keeps us from seeing people as we should.
- Something that keeps others from seeing us as they should, because we only show them what we want them to see….
- Will often keep us from moving forward in the plans God has for us, also referred to as a “hurt or hang-up.”
I want to bring us back to the time that Peter was thrown into prison by King Herod which we can read out of
6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”
It was the night before he would be on trial.
He was bound by two chains and between two guards, and there were more guards outside his prison cell. He had no means of escape.
We find Peter even in those chains…sleeping.
It is interesting to me how even though Peter was bound in chains, and there were guards surrounding him that could easily harm him, that he was able to REST.
We all are or have been bound by something in our life at some point, but how often have we just learned to “live” with them then allow ourselves to be set free from them?
How many of us find ourselves “resting” and finding “comfort” in those things that bind us?
Most times then not, we make ourselves accept the chains then figure out means of escape.
In Peters case though, in this literal sense, I believe the Lord allowed him to rest because he had gone through quite an ordeal. The difference was though his rest was in the Lord alone and not because he was up all night trying to figure out how to overcome it all.
“Be STILL and KNOW I am GOD,” (Psalm 46:10)
“ The Lord HIMSELF will fight for you, You need ONLY TO BE STILL.” (Exodus 14:14)
“He who watches over you WILL NOT slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—- The Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun WILL NOT harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121: 3-8)
In the middle of the night an Angel of the Lord came into the prison and struck Peter and his chains fell to the ground.
Before the angel of the Lord came into the prison let’s focus on the fact that Peter was in chains, He was bound to being between both those soldiers, and then when the Angel of the Lord came in he was struck and his chains fell to the ground. He was set free from his bondage right then and there.
This particular part of the story reminded me of Jacob wrestling with God and how when he was struck that he was then called a different name. He was no longer bound to the name he went by as “heel-grabber, or deceiver” after that moment. This story coorelates as to the fact that Jacob might not have had literal chains like Peter, but was bound by his old life until the Lord came in and struck him and made him walk “differently.”
24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[g] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” (Genesis 32:24-30)
The angel of the Lord then gives specific instructions on how for Peter to dress in order to get out of the prison safely. He first tells him to “put on his clothes and sandals, and wrap a cloak around and follow me.”
I think of what would have happened if he did not do as instructed. He could have put on his sandals and the cloak around himself, but he would be noticed fully that he was an escape prisoner.
Something we need to be on guard with is when it comes to the enemy, his plans are to harm us, to deceive us and torment us. I cannot imagine that Peter would have lived through the ordeal if he was noticed as an escape prisoner.
What is interesting in this scene the most is how Peter’s chains had fallen to the ground and he thought it was all a “dream.” In a sense, he did not really believe that his chains had come off him, he did not really believe he had been freed from bondage.
We can all relate to this part. One of the struggles in knowing our idenitity in Christ is knowing He has set us free. FROM ALL THINGS.
There was a series of events that happened in my past that seemed to repeat itself through each relationship in my life over time. It was a story that fueled the fear of rejection and other fears would stay at the surface too. Not too far back, I was having a conversation with someone and I shared about this situation that had happened, and fully expected that it would be taken out of context like many times in my past.
However, this time that was not the case. This time because it was a conversation with someone that has had a chance to know me, because of what the Lord revealed to them…and for the first time, I can fully say, it broke the chains off of me.
It was as if the Lord was saying, “ You are not who they said you were.”
And ever since that conversation it has been hard to have a good footing…I will often sit and think of it and just cry and say aloud, “ I am really free of that.”
In the movie, “ Shawshank Redemption,” one of my favorite parts of the movie, which is kinda gruesome but stuck out so much to me was when the old man was set free from prison but did not know how to live life after that, and he ended up hanging himself.
I think that can be us too, I think have to learn a new way to “walk” just like Jacob did when he was struck by the angel of the Lord.
Peter was led out of the prison and once he and the angel were cleared by the length of the street the angel of the Lord left him to walk on his own, and it was then standing in the street Peter realized he was no longer in prison.
He says to himself, “ Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people hoped would happen.”
Peter started out being bound by chains in prison, with no means of escape. He probably thought that was how his life would end. He probably thought that God would leave him there because he was called to die at that time.
We have to get out of the mindset that we are bound to the lives we have. We have got to get of the mindset that “ God must have this planned for me.”
And when He sets us free…we need to walk in it!
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)